Obama's first week, one-on-one with McCain

He wins on Social Security and taxes, stumbles on Jim Johnson and shows he'll fight back on smears and rumors.

Published June 14, 2008 10:38AM (EDT)

Every week I do a video wrapping the week in politics for our friends at Current, and this one looks at Barack Obama's first week going one-on-one with John McCain. In case you don't feel like watching the video: I think it was a good week. (Text continues after the video.)

Most important, Obama hit McCain hard for his flip-flops on taxes and privatizing Social Security, and he showed his will to fight the smears and rumors that doomed John Kerry in 2004. Of course, Obama didn't have to do anything to ignite outrage about Fox News calling Michelle Obama his "baby mama"; that spread like wildfire on its own. But the fact that Fox executives had to call the "baby mama" headline a "mistake" on the same day Obama launched a Web site devoted to fighting smears helped set a tone that the campaign wouldn't put up with tawdry GOP and media attacks.

The Jim Johnson mess was Obama's only stumble. It showed what the race will be like with Hillary Clinton gone, now that he has the media spotlight to himself: The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times all quickly devoted big stories to Johnson's ethical issues. Obama can't help that, but he can help the way he responds to media scrutiny, and his answer on Johnson, insisting he shouldn't have to "vet the vetters," was bad. Within a day, Johnson was gone, and the story seemed to pass. Obama has shown that he learns from his mistakes and I assume he'll learn from this one. Week 1 looked good for Team Obama.

By Joan Walsh

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2008 Elections